Conversion Optimization 101

by Sharon Hurley Hall

Last updated on September 6th, 2017

Conversion optimization—it’s easy if you know what you’re doing, more challenging if the area is new to you.

We publish a lot of content on Crazy Egg for people who are in the know, but today we’re going back to basics with a beginner’s guide to conversions for those who want to know what it’s all about.

Step 1: Know Your Goals and Your Customers

conversion goals placeit


If you’re in business and have a website, you want it to achieve something for you, but what should that be? You need to know your goals before you can optimize to achieve them.

Perhaps, like Kevin O’Leary of Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, you’re all about the money, but there are other ways your website and marketing tools can work for you that may take a longer route towards putting income in your bank account. Typical conversion optimization goals include:

  • creating more awareness of your company and brand.
  • educating customers and community building.
  • getting more signups for email newsletters.
  • generating leads among your target customers.
  • getting sales of products and services.

Identify which goals are important for your business and what changes you want to see. That will give you a way to measure success after you have made changes.

While you’re at it, work out who you’re talking to. You should know who your target customers are and what their interests are to help with conversions. Check out this article on turning visitors into customers for some useful tips.

Step 2: Identify Problems

Conversion Optimization Find Problems

Image: Pixabay

If you know what you want to achieve, then you also know what isn’t working. Often, this means asking questions like:

  • Why aren’t more people signing up for our email list?
  • Why are people not completing sales when they land on a product page?
  • Why are customers abandoning their shopping carts?

The actual questions will vary depending on your business.

You should also look at your analytics reports to see if there are any obvious issues with your website or marketing materials. Analytics tools are key to conversion optimization, whether you’re using Google Analytics, heat map analytics or another analytics tool.

Analytics will give you a clear picture of a clear picture of which pages are hot and which are definitely not, of what people love and what leaves them saying “meh.” Look at metrics such as average time on site, bounce rate, exit rate, engagement and social shares to help identify issues.

And analytics can also give you another route into figuring out the personas mentioned in step 1. Since Universal Analytics tracks users across platforms, you can get a much clearer idea of what the people you want to attract want to get from you in terms of information, content, products and services.

Step 3: Experiment, Test, Measure and Repeat

Conversion Optimization Test

Image: Pixabay

When you know your goals, your audience and your potential problems, it’s time to start testing. This is at the heart of conversion optimization. You can test pretty much every element of your website and marketing materials, but here are five areas that are worth a special look. Use split testing tools to try variations on all elements and see which ones work best.

1. Headlines and Titles

If you want to grab attention and make conversions easier, you have do do it from the start. One of the first things visitors to your site or email subscribers will see is your headline or content title.

A good title will affect social media shares too, so test a couple of variations to see what works. Here on the Crazy Egg blog, every post has two potential titles which are shown to site visitors—the one that wins the clicks is the one we stick with! Things to look out for include:

  • Does your title appear as a hot area in analytics (or one that’s clicked multiple times)?
  • Is it being widely shared on social media?
  • Do people know what they are getting when they read the title?
  • Is it magnetic and appealing?

Read this advice on writing headlines that convert (plus templates) to improve conversions here.

2. Design Elements/UX

Have you paid attention to design elements on your page? This is a key part of the user experience. Visitors to your site, wherever they come from, need to find relevant information fast.

This means looking after everything from navigation to search to button shape, color and size (which are all elements you can tweak and test). And since most visitors now use mobile devices, your design has to work well there, too.  Check out these visual tricks to boost conversions and this advice on improving user experience (UX).

3. Forms

Nobody likes filling forms, so if you want forms to convert make them as easy as possible—you can always collect more information later. This is even more important for mobile device users.

Figure out what information you absolutely need and how to label fields so they really appeal. Check out this article on adding heart to your emails. You may not want to address your customers as “Cupcake,” but they might like it! The clearer the form, the better it will convert. Here are some tips on designing web forms.

4. SEO

Think you can’t test SEO elements? Think again! As Jeremy Smith points out, both SEO and conversion optimization rest on great content, and the two support each other.

Optimized content converts better—end of discussion! Look after elements like friendly URLs, good meta descriptions, page speed (something you definitely ought to test and mobile optimization. Here are some more tips on using SEO to improve onsite conversions and this SEO 101 guide from Search Engine Journal is also useful.

5. Calls to Action

You didn’t think we were going to forget about the call to action, did you? The single most important aspect of conversion optimization is letting people know what action you want them to take next. If they don’t know, they could easily leave without doing it, which means you won’t achieve your conversion goals.

Whether you want people to read another article, sign up for your email newsletter or buy a product or service, you have to ask. And the way you ask makes a difference to the conversion rate. A good call to action:

  • is clear about the next action
  • makes it easy for a customer to take action
  • is inviting, visible and encourages prompt action
  • is appropriate to the content it is in

Again, you can measure the success of your calls to action using analytics and results such as the number of signups. Keep tweaking till you are happy with your conversion rate.

Test the elements in this list, tweak and test again to maximize your conversions. What issues have you identified with conversion optimization?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sharon Hurley Hall.



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Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 25 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.


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  1. FRANK Roberts says:
    June 27, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Apparently, You have more knowledge of optimization then anyone. I think if one focus more toward conversation rate optimization it can bring some good results. The age semantic has already changed the old thinking and way things work.

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      June 29, 2015 at 8:24 am

      I appreciate the kind words, Frank. With everyone jumping on semantic search, we may see even more changes.

  2. Gary Tramer | Co-founder at LeadChat says:
    February 2, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I’m slightly biased :o, but most SMBs we speak to complain about the effort involved in split testing. As you well know it’s an ever evolving beast!

    We often see the easiest/fastest way to get user feedback is through livechat, or some other instant feedback mechanism. Taking the common FAQs through chat, as well as general sentiment, generally can assist in reducing the overall burn of unique visitors.

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      February 3, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks, Gary, great point, and it shows that it’s important to use many different methods to optimize conversions.

  3. Anonymous says:
    October 23, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Hi Sharon

    Great article on conversion tips, these are really useful

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      June 29, 2015 at 8:23 am

      Thanks, SLPW.

  4. Wohllab says:
    October 21, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Great Optimization Tips. Really Thanks.

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      October 23, 2014 at 7:18 am

      Glad you found them useful, Wohllab.

    • Neil Patel says:
      October 23, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Wohllab, glad we could help.

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